Snapchat Unveils Redesigned, More Personalized App

Snapchat
The redesigned Snapchat

The new Snapchat app will still open to the camera, but now interactions with friends and with media brands will be separated.

Snapchat has unveiled a redesigned app that will now emphasize personalization while also creating greater separation between social interactions among friends and content from its media partners. 

"Today we're making Snapchat more personal," CEO Evan Spiegel said in a video posted to the Snap blog addressing the changes. 

When users open Snapchat, they will still be greeted by its main camera page, which has been a feature of the app since its early days as primarily a tool for sending disappearing messages. But, in one of the app's biggest changes, any chatting with friends or public Stories that friends post will now be accessible by swiping to the left side of the app. The right side is where Stories and shows from publishers, creators and the public will be available.

"While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting Internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side-effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves," the company wrote in the blog post that accompanied Spiegel's video.

Snapchat is also addressing one of the common critiques of the app — that it was difficult to find friends to follow — by taking an algorithmic approach to its friends page. 

The Discover page to the right of the app — where the professionally produced stories and shows from media and entertainment brands live — is also getting a more personalized touch and will adapt to the interests of the user. That Discover section is also expected to get an infusion of creator-driven content, a significant about-face for Snapchat, which had long dismissed the need to build up or support its community of homegrown stars. 

Speaking at the Business Insider Ignition Conference in New York on Wednesday morning, Snap vp content Nick Bell said of the redesign, "We think it's a much cleaner solution. We're going to be able to optimize the two experiences, one to focus on relationships and the other on interests."

Bell explained that the Snapchat experience is different from that of other social platforms, like Instagram, because of its focus on relationships between friends. "Snap is about chatting with your friends, about conversations that happen every day and all day," he said. 

The redesign comes less than a month after Snapchat's parent company posted weaker-than-expected third-quarter results. At the time, Spiegel admitted that Snapchat could be difficult to use, stunting its ability to grow beyond its core base of young users. "Our team has been working on responding to this feedback," he said in announcing the planned redesign.

That period, Snapchat had added just 4.5 million daily active users, down from its 7 million DAU additions during the second quarter. Overall, the company currently has 178 million users, well below rival Instagram's 500 million DAUs. 

The company also reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue of $208 million, which Spiegel attributed at the time to a shift to an automated advertising platform. Spiegel has acknowledged that the redesign could be disruptive to the Snapchat business in the long-term. 

Asked about concerns over future revenue growth during the Ignition Conference, Bell said distinguishing between content from friends and creators on the new Snapchat app would help the social media platform foster "a new breed of creator" for Snapchat. "If we can create significant audiences for our partners, we can generate significant revenue for our partners, and they in turn can create a better product for our consumers."

The update will start to roll out to a small group of users later this week. It will become more widely available in the coming weeks.

Etan Vlessing contributed to this report.

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